Prior to a closed Senate briefing on the Bergdahl/Taliban prisoner exchange, CNSNews asked Chambliss, “Section 1028 of the National Defense Authorization Act states the Secretary of Defense must provide Congress with a 30-day notice before transferring any detainee held at Guantanamo Bay. Did President Obama break the law by releasing five Taliban prisoners without notice?”
“The president certainly violated the law,” Chambliss responded in an email.
“The 30-day requirement was contained not just in one law that we passed, but (in) three laws that we passed -- the 2012 Intelligence Authorization Bill, the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill, and the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill,” Chambliss added. “These bills all contained a provision that required the president to give Congress 30 days notice before transferring any prisoner. He violated that. There's no question about it.”
Chambliss referred to a letter he received in 2012 from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which promised any prisoner transfers would be "undertaken after consultation with Congress and pursuant to all legal requirements for transfers, including those spelled out in the FY2012 Defense Authorization Act.”
“Secretary Clinton wrote a letter responding to Senator Feinstein and I, and acknowledged the fact that they had to give us 30 days' notice, and yet the president failed to do that,” Chambliss said.
Chambliss said he sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday stressing that “this commitment was not honored.”
The Defense Authorization Act also outlines certain requirements that must be met to ensure the individual cannot re-engage in terrorist activity that threatens the U.S. or its interests upon release.
During a press conference in Poland Tuesday, President Obama defended his decision to release five Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl, saying the administration "had consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange.”
And in another speech Thursday, Obama said he makes “no apologies” for the trade.
But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle continued to criticize the President for not giving Congress the advance notice required by law, saying they were not informed of the exchange until hours after it happened.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D, Calif.) said the administration called her to apologize for not giving her and other members of Congress advanced notice of the swap, according to The Hill newspaper.
“I had a call from the White House last night, from Tony Blinken, apologizing for it,” Feinstein said, according to the newspaper. “He apologized and said it was an oversight.”